THE GREAT TRANSITION…A THREE PART MINI-SERIES (2)

A GUEST SERIES by DAVE GLICKMANN

PART 2

Continuing our exploration of the Joy Division/New Order transition, today we ask the question “What is the ultimate transitional track?”

Of course, it is hard to even know how to approach this topic without defining what we mean by this.

* Is it a Joy Division track where we can see the first signs of musical ideas that became the basis for New Order’s sound?

* Or, perhaps a New Order composition that looks back at Joy Division one more time?

* Maybe a song with its feet firmly planted in both the past and the future at the same time?

* Or, that moment where the past was fully shed and the survivors broke through completely into their new identity?

As is the custom in this series, no answers, just music.

Looking Forward

In preparing to write this post, I tried as hard as I could to convince myself that Love Will Tear Us Apart contained hints of what was to come, but, I just couldn’t get there. Sure, the music is much more upbeat and happier than the rest of the Joy Division catalog (the lyrics, not so much). Perhaps it points in a direction that the band might have explored further if Ian hadn’t died. However, at least to me, that direction is not towards the sound that New Order ultimately explored.

On the other hand, there is this little ditty that was buried on the b-side of the free Komakino flexi-disc.

Joy Division – As You Said

Here are the thoughts of 50 Pound Note from The Recycle Project:

To me, As You Said is a clear “eff off” to the deniers who say Joy Division would never have gotten into all that synthy disco bullshit. The signs were there.

Looking Back

Naturally, the two songs we looked at last time,  the Joy Division compositions released as the first New Order single, are candidates for this category. This seems particularly true of In A Lonely Place which strikes me as a Joy Division track through and through. Of course, Part 1 already explored this territory in great detail. So, instead, let’s take a look at something much more obscure.

At the Western Works session (yes, I still promise that we will get to the Western Works story before we are done), Bernard tried out his homage to Ian. At least, that’s how I read lyrics like “This is the only time that I; Thought I had seen the signs; Well, I did… I’ll never know.” It sure sounds like a Joy Division composition to me. Given its raw, emotional content, perhaps it is none too surprising that this song was not pursued further by the band.

New Order – Homage (Western Works)

A.L. was kind enough to transcribe the lyrics while remastering the session in 2012:

This smile the unborn child reaction’s taken, forsaken
These scenes pervaded me in a way that
People seldom see

This is the only time that I thought I had
Seen the signs and I wait, I’ll never know

In this room
The blind pass through
In this room
I think of you
In this room

In this room

Darkness will vanish soon
I awake, always in this room
All days will fall and rise
Helplessly, I watch these figures cry

This sense of needless rejection
Always the sense of reason
Carelessly lead me astray

In this room
The blind pass through
In this room
I think of you
In this room
Father, please don’t forsake me now
In this room
Father, please don’t forsake me now
In this room

People always ask for dreams
Revelation in a dream

A life that is so scared

This is the only time that I
Thought I had seen the signs
Well, I did… I’ll never know

Standing In The Middle

It is hardly a controversial view to suggest that New Order’s debut album, Movement, was a transitional work, standing squarely between Joy Division and the New Order that was to come. It’s clear that they were moving forward, albeit not very far.

Peter Hook’s view of the album is both insightful and entertaining:

We were confused musically … Our songwriting wasn’t coming together. I don’t know how we pulled out of that one. I actually liked Movement, but I know why nobody else likes it. It was good for the first two-and-a-half minutes, then it dipped.

While Movement wasn’t a critical success, I can certainly admit to enjoying it both then and now. Of course, it doesn’t hold a candle to PC&L, but I’m still willing to give it a spin on occasion. In any case, for our purposes today, any song off the album will demonstrate this idea of standing between the past and the future. How about this one?

New Order – ICB

Breaking Through

Although they are, in general, better than the album material, the other two singles from the Movement period – Procession and Everything’s Gone Green – along with the two b-sides, strike me as being cut from largely the same cloth, another small step forward perhaps. So I conclude, rather unoriginally, that New Order’s breakthrough moment came with the next single, Temptation. JC says as much in his November 12th post without saying it at all.

While one of my goals in this series has been to avoid posting tracks that were already shared during the singles review, in this case, it simply is not possible. So, here’s a repeat of the original 12” version. Why that one? Because, as everyone knows, it is the longest and the best!

New Order – Temptation (12” version)

Oh, and just because you asked, I have steel blue (or are they grey) eyes.

DG

6 thoughts on “THE GREAT TRANSITION…A THREE PART MINI-SERIES (2)

  1. This is great. Super fun to read and contemplate. The only thing I could add is that I think “Dreams Never End” is the most compelling example of a transitional track on Movement. It has that blood rush and shimmer that would, in my opinion, define their best work and clearly set them apart from Joy Division.

  2. Great stuff again. I will always argue that Dreams Never End (sung by Hooky) is one of the key early NO songs, Movement’s highlight and a way out of the dead end they found themselves in.

  3. I know I’m in the minority but I like Movement more than any other New Order album. Probably because it still had some Joy Division in it. As NO moved on I grew less interested until I actually began to dislike their stuff. One of the major letdowns, which was only to be expected, was how insipid the lyrics became following the extraordinary words of Ian Curtis. If they had remained a bit more reflective and meaningful, as shown in the lyric you included to ‘Homage’, I might not have turned away. In any event, thanks again for a well-researched and written piece. (And I agree with Swiss Adam that Dreams Never End is one of the key early NO tunes, if not the best of them all.)

  4. I agree with all of you re: Dreams Never End. However, when part 3 posts tomorrow, hopefully it will be clear why I chose something else for today.

  5. That As You Said goes back as far as the Warsaw days, I always felt it was way more of a stab at Kraftwerkian Motorik-ing than disco, but when you get to the end of the song, you catch a glimpse of a familiar technique of ending a song by “powering everything down.” Less transition, more future thinking…
    What I love about Movement is something few really write about – well maybe except for Hooky…the level of bravado and muscularity. Dreams Never End and Truth are stunning, strong, confident and brash. There has to be some credit given to Flood and John Leckie for taking such care at cleanly recording what the band and Martin Hannett created in the studio.

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